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History Cookbook: Trout in Green Sauce

This recipe is in categories Normans / Medieval, Healthy eating, Main courses
About this recipe
Healthiness : (19 votes)
Comments: The sauce is quite easy to prepare and goes well with most fish.

To cook and lift the trout whole and unbroken is very tricky. Use 2 fish slices to lift each fish. A fish kettle really helps too. Cook the fish until it is just done to keep it as firm as possible. Trout fillets are more easily managed but the dish will not look as pretty.
Preparation Time: 20-25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 mins in total
Number of servings: Serves 2 as a main course or 4 with a meal.
Serving suggestions: Serve with seasonal vegeatbles.


Green sauce was the most common accompaniment to fish in the Medieval period. The recipe would vary depending upon the ingredients available. The finished sauce should be fresh tasting and a little tart.

Here is how the recipe for the sauce was originally written down:

'Verde Sawse: Take parsel, garlek, a litul serpell ans sawge, a litul canel, gynger, piper, wyne, brede, vyneger & salt; boile and grynge it smal and messe it forth.'

Medieval meals could be highly elaborate, with much attention given to the presentation of centre piece dishes. The trout in this dish are served whole 'swimming' in the green sauce and decorated with slices of vegetables and edible flowers.

Medieval society was very religious and many 'fish only' days existed in the medieval calendar; this has left us with many fine fish recipes.

Bread is used to thicken many sauces and gravies. In Medieval times, fine white bread was used for expensive dishes and reflected the high status of the household. NB Make fresh breadcrumbs - the orange coloured ones you can buy are not suitable.
Ingredients
For the main dish:
  • 2 whole trout, gutted
  • 2 slices of lemon, sprigs of parsley
For the green sauce:
  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 handful of watercress
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of fine breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water(add a little at a time- so the sauce doesn't become runny)
Equipment
  • Fish kettle or sided pan
  • Cup
  • Teaspoon
  • Tablespoon
  • Pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Knife
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

Make the green sauce first:
  1. Blanch the spinach by dropping into boiling water for 10 seconds
  2. Using fresh bread, make the breadcrumbs and place in the cooking pan
  3. Chop up and add the parsley and blanched spinach
  4. Add the lemon, salt, pepper and ginger
  5. Chop up and add the watercress
  6. Add the water
  7. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat just long enough to thicken: do not overcook it
  8. Leave to cool
To cook the fish:
  1. Lay the whole trout in cold water in a fish kettle or sided pan (with a lid)
  2. Add a slice of lemon and a couple of sprigs of parsley
  3. Bring the water to the boil and then turn down the heat to simmer. The pan should be kept covered so the fish will steam. This will take about 8-12 minutes
  4. Remove from the heat and carefully lift the trout from the water
To construct the dish: use a deep dish, the idea is to make your fish look as if they are still swimming in the dish
  1. Keep your hands wet to avoid tearing the fish skin 
  2. Put cocktail sticks horizontally through the underside of the fish. These will keep the fish upright and 'swimming' 
  3. Arrange the fish carefully in the bottom of the dish
  4. Spoon the green sauce around the fish, filling the bottom to create the water
  5. Finely slice 10cm of cucumber and arrange these around the inside of the dish
  6. Use rose petals, rosebuds and nasturtium flowers to decorate the dish and serve
Trout in Green Sauce - print view  Trout in Green Sauce - print view

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Comments
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Name: Micheal Jones 23rd July 2012
These recipes were more healthy than modern american cuisine, which can actually be detrimental to one's health.
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